Investigators believe teenagers responsible for series of arson fires

7:04 PM, Nov 7, 2012   |    comments
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UNION CITY, Ga - Investigators say surveillance video has them close to identifying several suspects in a rash of arson fires.

Authorities with the Union County Fire Department believe they may have identified as many as five teenagers responsible for a series of brush fires as well as a fire that destroyed an abandoned home.

"The individuals we're looking at right now are anywhere from 13 to 18 years of age," said Union City Battallion Chief Larry Knowles.

Investigators have viewed surveillance video taken by a security camera at a Union City store. It shows three individuals walking into a wooded area. Moments later, you can see fire burning the brush and trees.

Investigators asked 11Alive not to show the video with the suspects in it for fear of jeopardizing the investigation.

"One individual grabs a piece of paper and lights it on fire," said Knowles. "You see one bend over and light pine straw in the woods."

Investigators are using the video and witness statements to help identify the suspects.

Authorities believe the three are part of a larger group of teenagers that may be responsible for starting as many as twenty one fires, most of them over the past month.

However, Knowles says there have been a total of forty one arson fires in the city in recent months, and in half of them investigators have no suspects or leads.

One of the fires burned to within fifty feet of the dry cleaning operation that has been in Sohail Shah's family for thirty years.

"You worry, is somebody going to do it again?" said Shah. "Do they have the guts to do it again?"

A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction for the people responsible.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Georgia Arson Control line at 1-800-282-5804 or Investigator Knowles at the Union City Fire Department at 770-515-7958.

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